Integrating Heart and Soul: The New Science of Attachment & EFT by Sue Johnson
Response by Christian Early
Thank you Sue for a magnificent and mesmerizing plenary presentation. My bodied being says “YES.”
YES to your part observation, part claim that we come back…in religion, in mysticism, in romance, and in families…to love. In coming back to love, the implication is that we have also gone out from love. That the going out from love, and the return to love, is the heartbeat of life. John Bowlby famously said that “all of us, from the cradle to the grave, are happiest when life is organized as a series of excursions, long or short, from the secure base provided by our attachment figures.” It feels to me as if tonight, and this whole conference, is an excursion in which we come back to love. Jesus of Nazareth, during his excursion on earth, taught us to call God Abba…a loving father from whom we go out in exploration, discovering all sorts of stuff, and into whose arms we can return even as Jesus did on the cross. We come back to love.
YES to your claim that the essence of what it means to be human is to connect. Not only that connection is essential for survival, but also that it is essential to being fully alive. To thrive. To be happy. What is so striking about that is the many rival accounts of happiness that in one way or another want to suggest that wealth or success is happiness. But I think that most of us have come to the conclusion by now that a house is not necessarily a home, and a home is not necessarily a house. What we have here is an entirely different account of what it means to be human, and I wonder…I wonder what might have happened if this country’s founding document had operated not with social contract theory in the background but rather with attachment theory. Can you even imagine? What a fun thought! Actually I can imagine it. I think Jesus named it the Kingdom of God.
Finally, YES to all the metaphors of sound that reverberate in the air. Resonance. Attunement. Harmony. Call and response. Melody. A melody that can incorporate blue notes and red notes, the major and the minor keys of lived experience. The fact that we are born to connect is often a tragic and heartbreaking reality. We get stuck, and it is scary and painful to be stuck. So much so that we don’t know what to sing anymore. And here is the only extension that I wish to add to your presentation: you say that attachment theory is a developmental theory, a theory of growth. Yes. AND it seems to me that it is also a theory of transformation. That in attachment theory we learn to sing a song again that we for many reasons – most of them tragic and painful – have forgotten to sing. In returning to the song of love, the song of the One in whom we abide, we are changed. Abide with me, help of the helpless, O abide with me.